SHARE TWEET First Lady Frances Wolf, It’s On Us PA, Public Safety, The Blog, Women’s Rights Both Tom and I are heartbroken yet inspired by all the Americans and Pennsylvanians saying #MeToo this week. Sexual harassment and sexual violence are a black-eye of our society that we too often cover-up. This must change.Nearly two years ago Tom and I launched the first-ever state-level #ItsOnUs program to educate more Pennsylvanians about sexual assault and preventing it, especially on college campuses. Building off the momentum of the national It’s On Us movement, It’s On Us PA brings together college and university presidents, superintendents, administrators, teachers, students, families, and community members to help end sexual assault by standing up and speaking out.But our words aren’t enough to end sexual harassment and sexual violence. We must take action.This year, Tom announced a package of six pieces of legislation aimed at combating sexual violence. This bipartisan legislation is the result of students, parents, advocates, education leaders, and people across the commonwealth working together to improve reporting and response standards for sexual assault on K-12 and college campuses.Take the pledge. Call your legislators. We can’t let down all those speaking out who have been affected by sexual harassment and violence. It’s on all of us to make sure their bravery is not wasted. SHARE Email Facebook Twitter It’s on us to make sure bravery of #MeToo victims is not wasted October 18, 2017 Like Governor Tom Wolf on Facebook: Facebook.com/GovernorWolf By: First Lady Frances Wolf
The treatment of Udaras na Gaeltachta by various Governments since 2010 has been nothing short of a national scandal.That’s the view of Donegal TD Pat the Cope Gallagher ahead of Budget 2020 tomorrow (Tues).Speaking ahead of the national budget on Tuesday, Deputy Gallagher said the current situation in Gaeltacht areas followed years of heavy cuts by successive governments. He said: “The present situation whereby Udaras the only agency charged by Government to be responsible for and in sole charge of job creation and economic development in Gaeltacht areas has seen its current and capital budgets more than halved while at the same time its responsibilities expanded, while been starved of additional resources, staffing or extra funding.Pat the Cope added that Udaras na Gaeltachta at present support and sustain over 7,700 jobs within the Gaeltacht areas.He added: “They run various programmes from community development to community employment programmes in addition to performing the functions of Local Enterprise Offices in Gaeltacht areas notwithstanding the functions of the various Plean Teanga ( language planning ) in our Gaeltacht communities.“The Gaeltacht areas have a population of 100,716 as per the 2011 census, with most of the population divided over Gaeltacht areas in Donegal, Mayo, Galway, Kerry, Cork, Waterford and Meath. “Udaras na Gaeltachta is the sole development and job creation agency in Gaeltacht areas, it has the remit for sustaining and creating jobs in the most remote and isolated areas in all of Ireland.“The purpose and function of Udaras is essential for the long-term sustainable development of our Gaeltacht areas, but for Udaras to carry out their function properly they must be funded accordingly, as opposed the present situation where they are grossly underfunded,” Pat the Cope said.“Present funding levels of Udaras are farcical, Udaras are hamstrung from the outset and curtailed by lack of funding from central Government while at the same additional demands are being placed on it by various Government Action Plans and National Strategies.“The present situation within Udaras is at near breaking point, the current budget of Udaras in 2019 in real terms is just a meagre €5 million per annum, from that budget all regional offices, costs of staffing and the entire budget for job creation must be taken from.The lack of an appropriate level budget for attracting and marketing Gaeltacht areas for job creation is having serious impacts on how the Udaras targets and projections can be achieved,” Pat the Cope added. “In 2009, the Udaras current budget was €14 m, the current budget for 2019 is just €9.5m and as we witness priority is been given to IDA and Enterprise Ireland who year on year have experienced budget growths of 9% to 15 % per annum, but Udaras is a similar agency to them albeit covering Gaeltacht areas – but no budget increases are afforded to them.“It is now time that the present Government align Udaras with the other job creation agencies within the Department of Enterprise in terms of future funding and support.“This can be achieved while at the same time maintaining the cultural and language importance of the Udaras. It is not conceivable or just any longer, that these agencies are being treated differently, they all perform the exact same functions and responsibility,” stated Pat the Cope.“A similar situation exists in Capital Budget terms within Udaras, the 2009 capital budget was €25m, whereas the 2019 budget is only €9m. This is case in point where budgets have been cut to unsustainable levels over time, and without budgets being restored, the impossible is being asked of the Udaras at present. “The staffing level of Udaras is also cut from a staff of 156 in 2008 to present-day levels of 88 people only.“Whereas the previous Government may well have decided to keep the Udaras as a development and job creation agency, it has effectively overtime destroyed its ability to compete and function as an employment agency on a kin to IDA or Enterprise Ireland despite all three having the exact same responsibility and function,” Pat the Cope stated.“Udaras backed business and employers with 10 employees or more have contributed over €800 m to the national exchequer, with 60% of that being exported.“That is also contributing €150 m payroll to local communities and a return to the national exchequer of a nett €77 m in taxes alone. Therefore, funding of Udaras is a massive nett contributor to the national exchequer and is the only possible way of the sustainable development and providing for the long-term future of our most rural communities,” Pat the Cope added.“Unless real and substantial funding is made available for the Udaras, the targets set by both Government and by Udaras themselves for employment creation simply will not happen, and the further threats of Brexit and global uncertainty will only add to the challenges facing this state agency.“In recent media reports, the government are prioritising Brexit proofing businesses and jobs, that is the correct course of action but unfortunately with Udaras not being directly under the Department of Enterprise, it does not seem to be getting the same priority nor funding envelope.“Budget 2020 is a critical crossroads for Udaras na Gaeltachta, and by extension our rural communities in Gaeltacht areas, unless we see real commitment and proper increases in our funding of this state agency we are staring into uncertain times for our Gaeltacht areas.“Million of additional resources given to Department of Enterprise thus far for Brexit proofing strategies but none have filtered to Udaras.“Budget 2020 must prioritise Gaeltacht development, must begin a transformation of bringing Udaras into mainstream employment and development funding opportunities, it must create a hybrid model whereby employment initiatives in Udaras are supported directly from the same funding opportunities as IDA and Enterprise Ireland, while at the same time recognising the uniqueness of our Gaeltacht and linguistic responsibilities of Udaras and our Gaeltacht communities.“In short Udaras must be put on a level playing field with other agencies otherwise we are treating Gaeltacht citizens as lesser priorities and that will not be tolerated,” concluded Pat the Cope.Calls for govt to increase funding for Gaeltacht areas in Budget 2020 was last modified: October 6th, 2019 by Shaun KeenanShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)
Lengthy winning streaks aren’t rare occurrences when it comes to the Humboldt State softball team.On Friday afternoon, as the Jacks continued their lengthy schedule with games away from Arcata, they only tacked on another two games onto what has become another impressive winning streak.With 4-1 and 7-2 wins over Stanislaus State in Turlock, No. 1-nationally ranked Humboldt State extended its winning streak in the California Collegiate Athletic Association to 18 games, a stretch that dates …
The ribosome is a complex molecular machine made up of multiple protein and RNA parts. Last year, winners of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (see 10/10/2009) were praised for elucidating the structure and activity of ribosomes. News stories described “the whole complicated process of transcription initiation, an operation that is of crucial importance in all organisms, because it determines which genes are expressed, and when.” The process from gene to protein “must be carried out with great precision” and involves “the use of complicated assemblies made up of many different proteins, often referred to as molecular machines.” (See also 09/03/2009 and the 08/24/2009 entry, “DNA Translator More Complicated Than Thought.”) Researchers at the Salk Institute, however, essentially said this week in a press release, Elementary, my dear Watson-Crick: as for the origin of life, “elegantly simple organizing principles seen in ribosomes.” The press release explained, “Taking their hints from relics of this evolution left behind in modern cells, researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies concluded that after only two waves of ‘matching’ and some last minute fiddling, all 20 commonly used amino acids were firmly linked with their respective codons, setting the stage for the emergence of proteins with unique, defined sequences and properties.” Their conclusions are being published by PNAS next week.personified in this short press release was astounding. Like some goddess, “Evolution” seemed to be working toward personal goals all over the place:…two waves of ‘matching’ and some last minute fiddling…“Although different algorithms, or codes, were likely tested during a long period of chemical evolution, the modern code proved so robust that, once it was established, it gave birth to the entire tree of life,” says the study’s lead author Lei Wang, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Chemical Biology and Proteomics Laboratory.If chemical or physical interactions between amino acids and nucleotide indeed drove the formation of the genetic code, [David B. F.] Johnson reasoned, then he should be able to find relics of this mutual affinity in modern cells.“Also, the ribosome emerged from an early evolutionary stage of life to help with the translation of the genetic code before the last universal common ancestor,” explains [Lei] Wang …“We now believe that the genetic code was established in two different stages,” says Johnson.But once some primitive translational mechanism had been established, new amino acids were added to the mix and started infiltrating the genetic code based on specific amino acid/anticodon interactions.“We found evidence that a few amino acids were reassigned to a different codon but once the code was in place it took over,” says Johnson. “It might not have been the best possible solution but the only one that was viable at the time.” The authors admitted to only one area where their work did not “shed light” –Their data does not shed much light on the early code, consisting of prebiotically available amino acids—the kind generated in Stanley Miller’s famous “zap”-experiment.“Zap experiment.” Has kind of a Frankenstein ring to it, does it not? PhysOrg echoed the whole press release without a double-take.Here’s an entry parents can use to hone their precocious students’ baloney detecting skills. It’s too easy for high schoolers, though. Better put this in the file for junior high. The whole article is like a primer on how not to reason scientifically. Many of the classic fallacies are present: personification, of course, but also glittering generalities, loaded words (euphemism), card stacking, sidestepping, circular reasoning, non-sequitur, and much more. Particularly noteworthy are the miracle phrases (emergence; gave birth to the entire tree of life) and personifications hidden in passive-voice verbs and subjunctive mood constructions (amino acids were firmly linked with their respective codons; the modern code proved so robust that, once it was established). A simple exercise when seeing these phrases is to stop and ask, WHO linked it? WHO proved it robust? WHO established it? It will be a profound educational revelation for a young student to realize there are actually irrational people in our scientific institutions saying dumb things. Don’t let evolutionists, who are supposed to believe evolution is mindless and directionless, get away with personification. It is the besetting sin of the Darwin Party. We need to turn out an army of baloney-detecting young people to arrest the logical drunks, even when they hark from prestigious organizations like the Salk Institute. If they want to engage in Frankenscience, fine: just make them be consistent. No guidance, no interference, no assuming what needs to be proved, no baloney. Do the zap experiment the right way: turn the zapper on the sea water, walk away, and watch it, with hands off, like a good empiricist, for millions of years. Anybody want to predict how many codes and ribosomes and translation mechanisms will “emerge” from the zap experiment? 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Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest The weather pattern remains mostly unfavorable for large scale drying over the next 10 days. We have trouble putting together more than a day or two of true dryness with good evaporation in a row. That’s not to say we wont get ANY field work done, but it will not be easy either. Today, we see another mostly cloudy, cool day over most of the state with scattered likely through the day. Coverage will be around 90%. Rain totals will end up being from a few hundredths to .25” …which is not a lot, but it does mean we just do not dry down very much today. Another round of cold air races in tonight, and we have a threat of frost in northern areas overnight. Tomorrow may end up being the best day of the week, as we turn out partly to mostly sunny and see temps rebound. Evaporation will be near a maximum level tomorrow. Clouds return Wednesday, perhaps not right away in the morning, but soon thereafter. Scattered light showers spread across the state near or after sunset but only end up with about 25% coverage and minor totals. This is more about slowing the drying process than picking up a bunch of moisture. Thursday turns out partly sunny. Rain and thunderstorms race into the state Thursday night and Friday, and we end up with some good rains from that event. Right now we look for .25”-1” rains with 80% coverage. Saturday turns out partly sunny over all of Ohio. Sunday starts with sunshine, but clouds return quickly, bringing showers and thunderstorms from late Sunday afternoon through the overnight. Moisture totals have a wide range here, from .2″ to .9″ 80% coverage. Thunderstorms will be the main driver of the heavier rain totals. An “on-again-off-again” moisture pattern develops for early next week. Scattered showers are possible Monday with 80% coverage and .1″-.6″ rain totals. Tuesday features a mix of clouds and sun, but little to no additional moisture threat. Then Wednesday scattered showers are back with a few hundredths to half an inch possible, but only 40% coverage. So, while there will be holes in precipitation, it will be difficult to get well spread drying across Ohio for that period. The map at right shows 10 day rain totals for the state. For our extended forecast, we start with a dry day for Thursday the 23rd, featuring partly sunny skies. Rain returns next Friday ,but only in southern Ohio, where we can see up to .8” over the southern third to quarter of the state. There should be nothing going in central and northern Ohio. Three (3!) dry days are possible from the 25th through the 27th with partly to mostly sunny skies. We finish the extended window with a chance of showers in the northern third of the state for the 28th.
TraditionalGCQNYZby CaniSciolti Location:Liguria, ItalyN 44° 08.443′ E 009° 40.568′ SharePrint RelatedUnderground — Geocache of the WeekFebruary 7, 2018In “Community”Masca – Los Gigantes – Masca – a real adventure — Geocache of the WeekSeptember 20, 2017In “Community”Der Turm – La Torre — Geocache of the WeekJune 26, 2019In “Community” Difficulty:1.5Terrain:3 On the west coast of Italy, stretched along the glistening Ligurian Sea lie the Cinque Terre, or Five Lands. Dating back to the 11th century, these picturesque towns have, by virtue of their isolated locations, remained protected from the outside world. To this day they remain accessible only by train, boat, or a rugged winding path that weaves up though the mountains and dips down to meet the clear blue water between the villages. Though cars are vietate (forbidden) in these colorful towns, geocaches are welcome. Among the twelve caches scattered along the winding trail connecting each town to the next is Cinque Terre – Monterosso-Vernazza, our Geocache of the Week. Image by team knautschPlaced in 2006, this cache is one of the oldest in Liguria, the Italian Riviera. Since the trail through the villages is a Parco Nazionale (National Park), there is a small fee to hike the trails during the busy summer months; however, cache owner CaniSciolti keeps the container in tip top condition for cachers to find year round.Ground Zero! Image by MappimanAlthough relatively straightforward, for this Traditional Cache it’s really the journey that counts. Each village has its own separate culture, traditions, and even dialect. So, while you could take the train to either Vernazza or Monterosso, the best way to earn this smiley is to brave the trail and embark on the scenic six hour hike to the cache.Though Venice boasts some famous bridges, we think the ones in Liguria are pretty great too. Images by geojammers and SlightlySarahYour strumenti del mestiere (tools of the trade) might need to expand for this unique cache. You’ll want to make sure you also pack a swimsuit for the crystalline waters in Vernazza. You’ll definitely need to save your appetite for the famous honey gelato in Corniglia or pizza in Monterosso. Finally, you’ll have to lace up your hiking boots to get you up the ancient stairs and down the winding trails. And of course, the most important of all —don’t forget to bring a pen to sign the logbook!Continue to explore some of the most amazing geocaches around the world. Check out all of the Geocaches of the Week on the Geocaching blog. If you would like to nominate a Geocache of the Week, fill out this form.Share with your Friends:More
By Molly C. HerndonAre your clients talking about making some financial changes in 2016? Many folks make financial resolutions, and you can help them by providing tools and resources to help make their goals a realitySmart Goals: You can help your clients identify what they hope to achieve with their financial changes by introducing them to SMART goals, that is goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and are accomplished on a Timeline. By working with your client to list how their plans fit into these goals, the action steps to get started will become more easily identifiable.Budgeting/Tracking: Many folks need to begin with the basics of creating a budget and learning skills and having resources available that will help them track their spending in order to meet their goals. Here are many resources:Basic Money ManagementSpending Plan WorksheetThe 52 Week Money Challenge is a good savings approach for people looking to save more in 2016. Groups of people make commit to the savings challenge together to increase the accountability of the program.Steps to Health & Wealth. New year resolutions based on finances are only eclipsed by health and fitness-based resolutions. The Small Steps to Health & Wealth program offers tips and resources for combining these goals to make long-lasting positive changes for better health and better financial security.Of course, a starting point for many families at the start of the New Year is paying off any accumulated holiday debt. Using systems like PowerPay.org can help folks focusing on creating new financial behaviors track their repayment and maximize their efforts to reduce debt.What other tools and resources do you point clients to when they are looking for ways to make lasting behavior change? Share them here.
A doping scandal has hit Indian sports again and the conundrum continues, with the administration trying to fix the culprits for the positive dope tests of eight athletes.While the government has launched a probe, there is another voice, though subdued, that is trying to raise a different point altogether.The view is about the establishment unofficially providing assistance to athletes, much like it was done in the erstwhile East Germany and some other countries – and many believe it’s still being done in many. But those, especially in the establishment, who are in favour of this option, cannot openly say so for the obvious fear of being penalised.Several top officials privately feel that without taking help of performance enhancing substances, along with effective masking agents, most Indian athletes cannot win medals – or that they won’t win as many as they do now – at the highest level. The need of the hour is proper research with an aim to help athletes, they say.Although personally I oppose this take, officials say it’s not quite possible for Indians to win only by being fair, considering today’s cut throat competition and extraordinarily high stakes in every sport, particularly athletics. For them, there are only two options: either join the race of systematic doping, with subtle official patronage, or give up playing sport altogether.Rajiv Gandhi as prime minister once tried to stop India’s participation in global events after an extremely poor performance, but even he couldn’t get his idea executed, such was the opposition. So, while the second option is not possible, for that would be unfair on genuine champions like Viswanathan Anand, Pankaj Advani and Saina Nehwal who have excelled on the basis of their skills alone, many officials want the first option to be explored.advertisement”The witch-hunt that is currently going on will lead us nowhere. Those who have tested positive are not cheats; they are our national pride. The episode reflects the failure of our sports system in many ways,” said a top government sports administrator who didn’t want to be quoted.”Instead, let us help our athletes, most of whom come from poor backgrounds and lack in education, with proper research and set up a system that provides them a safe method to improve their performances with effective masking agents. I know saying this is going against the grain – when the entire country seems ready to execute the athletes who have doped – but, realistically speaking, there is no option,” he explained.Another official chipped in: “According to a rough estimate, 70 to 80 per cent athletes worldwide use masking agents. In India, we only do policing; there’s no other programme to provide athletes specialised assistance.” In sports that require physical superiority, Indians, largely due to their weak natural build, cannot match their rivals on their own, such officials say. “Let’s not fool ourselves by saying that the Indian sports establishment wants a clean environment even if our athletes keep on finishing last. Some athletes would surely win without taking banned drugs, but not the majority,” said one of them.Indian sports desperately needs professionals, especially in sports medicine, not ad-hoc administrators who get posted courtesy politicians. But to appoint the right person to the right position we need a real desire to see Indian athletes reach the top of the podium.Since sports is a specialised field we need to invite professional coaches, physiotherapists, trainers, dieticians, nutritionists etc. from abroad and make them train Indian athletes and coaches. When the Patiala-based National Institute of Sports was established in 1961, its faculty consisted of foreigners. “For several decades, we haven’t had any expert from abroad who can teach our would-be coaches so that they could learn the latest techniques and impart the same to our athletes,” said an official.
Once we allocate a team’s minutes, we can estimate its projected scoring margin by summing each player’s SPM projection. The Lakers, for instance — even with James — would be projected to outscore their opponents by only 0.5 points per game. That translates to a 42-40 record, using a Pythagorean projection.Once we project a team’s win total, we can allocate its wins back to individual players: For instance, James is worth about 21 wins to the Lakers. There are a couple of highly technical points about this process, which I’ve reserved for the footnotes,10The allocation works by calculating a player’s wins above average based on his SPM projection and the Pythagorean formula, assuming that he was added to a league-average team. Since an average team would win 41 games, I also add 8.2 wins (41 wins divided by five positions) per 48 minutes played to each player so that the sum of player win totals roughly matches the team’s win projection.This produces a number that can be compared to win shares or other NBA metrics that denominate a player’s value in wins. However, the statistic should not be thought of as “wins above replacement.” Instead, it represents wins as compared to a really, really bad player who is even worse than replacement level — you might call it WAABAAB, Wins Above Anthony Bennett And Andrea Bargnani.Another complication is that the wins estimates for individual players will not exactly match the team total. This is principally because of diminishing returns for very good or very bad teams (a team can’t win more than 82 games or fewer than zero). In my system, the team win total has priority: Player win totals are adjusted to match the team figure rather than the other way around. This only has a material impact for extraordinarily strong or poor teams, however. but note that a player’s win allocation can vary slightly from team to team. (The issue is diminishing returns — a team’s win total eventually maxes out at 82 wins in the regular season. Otherwise, you’d run into problems like the 2012 U.S. Olympic roster projecting to 110 wins and negative 28 losses.)Here are some benchmarks to keep in mind: A team that played James 35 minutes a game and filled out the rest of the roster with replacement-level players would have a projected record of 33-49. And a team that had James plus 11 league-average players would have a record of 56-26.That’s why James wouldn’t give up much if he left Miami, which won 54 games last season. The rest of the Heat’s players have regressed to the point where they’re league-average without James, or perhaps slightly below average — and they probably aren’t going to get any better.Instead, the Heat project to a record of 52-30 if they re-sign James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The projection ought to be intuitive. Miami’s record last season wasn’t all that good, and that probably wasn’t an accident: The Heat’s players were aging, and the team was a man or two short of a full rotation. Adding Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger might help a little, but will probably only offset further age-related reversion from the rest of the roster. (PSPS has a rather nice-looking projection for McRoberts, which makes up for its very pessimistic one for Bosh.)The other challenge is that the Heat have so many free agents that it’s hard to know who will remain with the club. I’m assuming that Allen, Chris Andersen, Greg Oden, Udonis Haslem and Michael Beasley will return if the Big Three do, while the other players will not. (Shane Battier is retiring, for instance.)The controversial case is point guard Mario Chalmers, whom I’ve left off the roster. Chalmers played poorly in the playoffs and the Heat would have very limited money to offer him after stretching as much as it can to re-sign the Big Three. But SPM hates the alternative point guard, Norris Cole, and it’s inherently pessimistic about what any rookie (Shabazz Napier included) will do in his first season. If you replaced Cole’s minutes with Chalmers’s, the Heat’s projection would improve to 56 wins. Still, Miami would be somewhere in the vicinity of where it was last season.What the Heat really needed was to add another star talent, especially to address its deficiency at the point. For instance, if Miami had snagged Kyle Lowry — and somehow also re-signed the Big Three — it would project to 60-plus wins.The wild-card scenario would involve the Heat retaining James but parting ways with Bosh or Wade. There are some theoretically intriguing possibilities that build a team around James, Carmelo Anthony, a league-average point guard and some complementary role players.But ultimately James would maximize his championship potential by surrounding himself with players who are underpaid relative to the basketball value they produce. Might he find them in Cleveland?Perhaps, but the Cavs’ projection is the same as the Heat’s: 52-30. The Cavaliers won only 33 games last season, so a 19-win improvement is sizable. A little bit of that comes from projected improvement from young players like Kyrie Irving — although the Cavs also have a few subtractions, like Jarrett Jack and Luol Deng.At least in Cleveland it’s possible to conjure any number of upside scenarios. Reports have linked Minnesota’s Kevin Love to the Cavs, for instance. With a number of caveats,11Metrics derived from “box score” stats may be too much in love with Love; it’s not clear whether the salaries would work out; the Cavaliers would lack a true center if they tried this. trading Andrew Wiggins and Anderson Varejao (and some draft picks) for Love would make the Cavs a 60-plus-win team with James on the roster. Or the Cavs could wait for Wiggins, Irving and Tristan Thompson to develop further.But James has a number of alternatives that could get him on a championship-caliber roster right away — and with fewer contingencies. One possibility is Dallas:The Mavs have probably gotten over James, having made an offer to Chandler Parsons instead (Parsons is a restricted free agent, so the Rockets will have the right to match). And our projections aren’t all that optimistic about them. Dirk Nowitzki is finally due for some age-reversion. Monta Ellis has never been an advanced-stats poster boy. The Mavericks might get poor point-guard play from Ray Felton, and I’m assuming the team would have to salary-dump Brendan Wright, and give up on re-signing Vince Carter and Shawn Marion, in order to clear room for James. With all those issues, they’d still project to a 55-27 record next season with James.The Knicks rate similarly:This is almost certainly not going to happen. The Knicks would have to find takers for Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani. Even under this miracle scenario, I’m assuming that they’d lose Iman Shumpert and Tim Hardaway, Jr., in order to facilitate salary-dump deals. I have them relying on a lot of playing time from second-round draft picks and other dubious alternatives like Lamar Odom.Even so, the Knicks project to a 56-26 record with an Anthony/James pairing and an otherwise spartan roster. Don’t take this as an indication of how awesome the Knicks are, but instead as a benchmark for how little of a draw Miami’s incumbent status really is for James. As I mentioned earlier, a team of league-average players plus James would project to a 56-26 record; Miami is about a league-average team without James, but so are the Knicks. It’s not a high bar to clear.For some further indication of this, we can look at the next three teams in lightning-round fashion; all project to a 59-23 record with James on the roster. First up, one of Grantland basketball writer Zach Lowe’s dark-horse candidates, the Phoenix Suns:Jeff Hornacek somehow got 48 wins out of a roster that was expected to lose enough to be granted a lottery pick. There’s the potential for some mean-reversion in Phoenix, but that’s much less of a concern for a young club. The Suns have a lot of underpaid players and could potentially add another piece next year in addition to James. As Lowe wrote, if James were making a decision strictly on the basis of getting the max salary on a title contender, the Suns would be an excellent option.So might another Z-Lowe favorite, the Atlanta Hawks:The starting five would be very good, depending on Al Horford’s health. There isn’t a lot of depth in Atlanta, but Miami and Cleveland don’t have much depth either.A sexier alternative would be the Chicago Bulls:It might seem surprising that the Bulls project no better than the Suns or the Hawks — not that 59 wins is anything to sneeze at. But I’m assuming that to sign James, the Bulls would have to amnesty Carlos Boozer and find a taker for Mike Dunleavy.Granted, Boozer and Dunleavy are not better than league-average players at this point in their careers. But they also aren’t total zeroes; they combined for 10 win shares last season. The win-shares baseline is too generous; but when James gets added to an already talented roster, he’s taking playing time from some semi-respectable alternatives instead of some Bargnanis.The other issue is Derrick Rose, who projects as only a league-average player. The problem is not just that Rose has played only 10 games in the past two seasons — he stunk when he did play last year. Still (since we’re indulging in so many hypotheticals) the Bulls would project to a 65-17 record if they both signed James and Rose performed at his 2011-12 level.James’s final alternative would be to create a sequel to the Big Three with either the Clippers or the Rockets. They’re terrific options if the cap mechanics work. A LeBronful Clips team projects at 66-16 — and the Rockets are even better, at 69-13. The Clippers’ Big Three might be slightly better than the Rockets’, but the Clips would have to gut their roster to keep all three players on board — dumping DeAndre Jordan and Jamal Crawford, and perhaps others. Still, the top-level talent might overwhelm everything else, in the fashion of the 2007-08 Celtics.The talent in Houston would run six players deep, with Chandler Parsons, Patrick Beverley and Terrence Jones aiding and abetting James, James Harden and Dwight Howard. After that, there would be almost no one on the roster — the Rockets would have to dump Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin to make room for James.There’s room for concern about how well James, Harden and Howard would mesh together — something that statistics like SPM may not capture well. But this would be a really, really good problem for Houston General Manager Daryl Morey to have. Even if the Rockets lost Parsons to Dallas as collateral damage and gave his minutes to veteran-minimum players instead, they’d project to 65 wins. Even if you subtracted five more wins for lack of team cohesion, they’d still be better positioned to win a championship than the Heat.But incumbency is a powerful advantage. James may stay in Miami or go back to Cleveland — even if some alternatives might give him a better chance of keeping up with Michael Jordan. The conventional wisdom is that LeBron James will remain in Miami or return home to Cleveland. Neither would maximize his chances of winning a championship — but Cleveland, at least, is on an upward trajectory.In Miami, James runs the risk of staying too long with a team in decline. The Heat won 54 games last year in a historically soft Eastern Conference and were dismantled by San Antonio in the NBA Finals. As if the Spurs left any doubt, a team with 54-win talent is rarely good enough to win a championship. Since the introduction of the three-point shot in 1979-80,1I exclude lockout-shortened seasons from these tallies. just one of 22 teams to finish with 54 regular-season wins has won the championship that season.I’m not cherry-picking data to make the Heat’s case look bad. We can expand the sample to include all teams that won between 52 and 56 regular-season games. There have been 102 such teams — and only three of them won the NBA title.Instead, a team’s title chances increase rapidly once it gets its win total into the high 50s — or better yet, somewhere in the 60s. A team with 55 regular-season wins will win the title about 5 percent of the time; with 60 wins, it will about 20 percent of the time, and with 65 wins, about 60 percent of the time.2These estimates are based on a logistic regression analysis.If James really wants to get to that 60-win threshold, he’d be better off exploring teams aside from his reported favorites, such as the Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns, Atlanta Hawks, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers. When I placed James on the roster and ran projections for those teams, all but one finished ahead of both Miami and Cleveland.To make the projections, I used a metric called Statistical Plus/Minus (SPM), which was originally developed by my colleague Neil Paine. (SPM is not quite the same thing as NBA Real Plus Minus, though the systems are related.) SPM measures a player’s value in points per game (more precisely, points per 100 possessions3There are about 100 possessions per team in a typical NBA game, so points per 100 possessions is roughly equivalent to points per game.) relative to the league average. For instance, a player with an SPM of +4 (like the Bulls’ Joakim Noah) produces a net of four extra points for his team per 100 possessions. James is in the range of +8. Negative SPMs indicate below-average players.SPM has a good track record when it comes to predicting how teams will be affected by roster changes. But I’m hoping not to get sidetracked into a debate about which is the best “all-in-one” NBA metric.4A couple of us at FiveThirtyEight are agnostic enough about the alternatives that we’re thinking about publishing a consensus metric that averages the different rating systems. In this case my choice is pragmatic: Whereas some metrics like win shares value the very best NBA players as worth 15 to 20 wins per season, others like PER estimate that they’re worth 25 to 30 wins per season. SPM, which can also be translated into win totals, comes down somewhere in the middle, and puts James in the low 20s.We also need some way to project a player’s SPM for next season, so I’m using a variant on another Neil Paine invention, the Simple Projection System. Like Neil’s system, my version uses data from the past three NBA seasons. The only variables it looks at are SPM and minutes played. But it includes a slightly more sophisticated handling of mean-reversion5Simple Projection System reverts players to the league average, whereas my variant reverts players to below the league average and is more suspicious of players who post strong SPMs in limited minutes. and player aging.6Simple Projection System is probably too conservative about adjusting for a player’s age. There’s also a separate routine to handle rookies, whom I’ve projected on the basis of their draft position and age.7Holding draft position constant, older players are more “NBA-ready” (better) in their rookie seasons, though the trend reverses itself after a few seasons. You might call my variant the Pretty Simple Projection System (PSPS).Let’s put some of that methodology to use. I’ve projected seasons for the 10 teams that, at one point or another, were rumored to have a chance at landing James. We’ll start with the worst and move toward the best. Ranking at the bottom are the Los Angeles Lakers.The system projects that the Lakers would win only 42 games even with James on the roster. The problem is that between age and injuries, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol may be no better than average NBA players — and any scenario that would allow the Lakers to sign James would require them to absolutely gut their depth.Importantly, I’m making a few assumptions in constructing the Lakers’ hypothetical roster — and in constructing the rosters for all the teams James may join:James is the only top-tier free agent the team signs this summer, other than its own free agents. So the Lakers can re-sign Pau Gasol, for instance, if the salary numbers are at all realistic. But they can’t also sign Carmelo Anthony or someone to pair with James.Rosters must be at least vaguely plausible under the salary cap and other contractual rules. Some cases will be bigger stretches than others. (For the Lakers, both James and Gasol would probably have to accept less than they might make elsewhere.) But they’re reasonable best-case scenarios or slightly better than that. In some cases, I’ll specify players who I assume will have to be traded to clear cap room for James.James and his teammates stay in reasonably good health, but there are no medical miracles. For instance: Kobe Bryant may be relatively healthy, but he doesn’t go back to playing 40 minutes a game, 82 times a year.8The minutes-per-game figures in this article represent the total number of minutes on a player’s season divided by 82 games — as opposed to the average number of minutes in games that a player participates in. For instance, if Samuel Dalembert averages 30 minutes per game in his first 41 games with the Knicks, then sits out the remaining 41 games due to injury, his minutes would be listed at 15 per game, not 30. This is why the minutes-played figures may look conservative — I’m building in some buffer for injury. (He played in just six games last season.)Every team that gets James also gets Ray Allen for “free.” That is to say, it signs Allen for the minimum salary or in some other way that doesn’t require it to sacrifice its options. There are reports that Allen will follow James wherever he goes. Like a lot of reports in the NBA’s silly season, they may turn out to be false. But even if Allen doesn’t follow James, another veteran like Mike Miller might. Allen represents a team’s “LeBron Dividend” — the one or two championship-seeking veterans who might join James for slightly below their market rate in order to have a shot at a ring.After Allen, I assume that a team signs generic replacement-level players if it doesn’t have enough minutes to fill out its roster. This is pertinent in the case of the Lakers. Even after some heroic assumptions — Steve Nash stays healthy enough to play half the Lakers’ minutes at point guard, they give playing time to second-round pick Jordan Clarkson — the Lakers will almost certainly need to sign a number of scrappy veterans at the minimum salary. Players signed to league-minimum contracts in 2013-14 averaged about -2 points per 100 possessions. Opponents of a roster full of such players would outscore it by 10 points per game, leaving the league-minimum team with a record of 16-66.9That uses a Pythagorean projection; I use 14 as the pythagorean exponent, as Basketball-Reference.com does. This implies, incidentally, that replacement level in the NBA is not zero wins, as some other systems have it, but somewhere in the range of last year’s Philadelphia 76ers instead.
Somewhere along the way, boxing fell down and has been unable to get back up—just like the old lady in the commercial. But when she called out for help, there was someone listening. Boxing’s call has gone unanswered for years now. And so, a sport that once was must-see action just lies there, unresponsive, virtually comatose.Every now and again, Floyd Mayweather will fight or Manny Pacquiao will knock out someone, and the sport feels resuscitated – for about an hour. Then it curls back into the fetal position.Where have all the champions gone? Surely someone could go down the prolonged list of acronym belt-holders and say, “There. There are the champions.” And you would not recognize most of them. There is no one to compare to Sugar Ray Leonard or Roberto Duran or Tommy Hearns or Marvin Hagler or Wilfredo Benitez or Aaron Pryor or Alexis Arguello or Julio Ceasar Chavez or Roy Jones Jr. or Pernell Whitaker or Oscar De La Hoya or Felix Trinidad or Hector Camacho.That’s a baker’s dozen worth of champions from the 1980s and 1990s who were of style and substance. They were reasons to watch the so-called “sweet science.” And that list did not even include heavyweights. It would not have been fair to go back to the golden ages of boxing, where legends Sugar Ray Robinson, Floyd Patterson, Joe Frazier, Muhammad Ali, etc., were the kings of the ring.There was a time when the heavyweight champion of the world was an iconic figure, the symbolic “baddest man on the planet.” As off-center as he was, Mike Tyson was a boxing meter-mover, perhaps the biggest of all time when he was at his best. He did his work in the late 1980s and 1990s, when there was Evander Holyfield, ageless George Foreman, Riddick Bowe, Lennox Lewis, Michael Moorer all sharing the heavyweight crown (with a few flukes) over a decade.The point is, there was genuine interest and excitement in boxing. In most every weight class, there were fighters that were skilled and interesting, if not complex.Now the Klitschoko brothers, Vitali and Wladimir, reign over the largest classification, with no challengers of merit. They are from the Ukraine and have the personalities of, well, Ukrainians.Worse for boxing, even if Mayweather and Pacquiao do come together and deliver an epic, where does that leave the sport? What would be the next highly anticipated fight? A rematch?The word is that promoter Bob Arum is holding up an agreement to put those two together. How silly is that? Why is a promoter needed in a fight that all boxing fans (and even the curious) are clamoring to see? But then, it’s boxing, meaning no need to be surprised at the ridiculous.Take a glance at the list of “champions” of the WBC, WBA, WBO, IBF and it reads like an international roll call. Beyond that, none of them generate so much as an inkling of interest.Perhaps there is one Great African-American Hope to pull us from these boxing doldrums. Middleweight champion Andre Ward, an Olympic gold medalist, has the goods. He’s skilled, humble, tough, smart and charismatic. And he gets it, more so than most.In an interview, he said, “You’ve got to use your brain. When you’re a thinking man’s fighter, sometimes people take that as if you’re a reluctant warrior. But my ultimate goal is to become a master of my sport, where I can control the other man effortlessly.”How can you not feel good about someone who thinks like that? But the problem persists: Who would be his opponent that would energize the masses? Can’t think of one – unless Leonard wants to come out of retirement at age 56.There was time when fathers and sons watched boxing together. It was sort of a rite of passage. Many fights came on free TV on Saturdays, on ABC’s Wide World of Sports. You could actually sit home with your family and see wonderful championship fights.Hardly is there a match worth watching now, much less worth the $59.95 pay-per-view price tag ($69.95 in HD). Many have turned to MMA (mixed martial arts), which is even more barbaric and Stone Age than boxing. That the brutal “sport” could even approach boxing speaks to how hard it has fallen.The top young athletes are eschewing the boxing gym for basketball or football. The fan base that fiends for a revival is discouraged. And the best fight out there cannot get made.Not sure how boxing can get off the mat. The referee is counting.Curtis Bunn is a best-selling novelist and national award-winning sports journalist who has worked at The Washington Times, NY Newsday, The New York Daily News and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.